Call for restoration of historical identity of Gilgit-Baltistan
6 May 2007
Skardu: Speakers at a conference here have demanded restoration of the historical identity of Gilgit-Baltistan, holding of election for a constitutional assembly and ending the bureaucrats’ rule in the region. They criticised the Karachi Pact that, according to them, made Gilgit-Baltistan disputed and deprived the people of their national, democratic and constitutional rights. They demanded that Gilgit-Baltistan be included in the Constitution of Pakistan and represented in Gilgit-Baltistan, Siachen talks. The conference on Karachi Pact, organised by Gilgit-Baltistan Democratic Alliance, was attended by a large number of representatives of nationalist and left-wing parties. Brig (retired) Zakir Shamim said that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan fought the Dogra Raj and joined Pakistan unconditionally, but because of the Karachi Pact, Gilgit-Baltistan was being treated as a disputed territory. He said that when there was no mention of Gilgit and Baltistan in the Constitution then it was useless to talk of constitutional rights for the people of the region. He demanded that the name of Gilgit-Baltistan should be included in the Constitution of the country. Gilgit-Baltistan Democratic Alliance leader Ehsan Ali labelled the Northern Areas Legislative Council a ‘toothless’ body and said that it was not a legislative council as the members had no powers to make any legislation and could only pass resolutions. He demanded that the government should dissolve the council and hold election for a constitutional assembly so that it could prepare a genuine constitution for the area fulfilling the aspirations and needs of the people. He urged the government to restore the historical status of Gilgit-Baltisitan which it enjoyed before Nov 15, 1947, and withdraw forces from the region. Addressing the conference as chief guest, Mohammad Iqbal advocate said that though former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had taken some positive steps and introduced some reforms in Gilgit-Baltistan by removing injustices and black laws, he failed to give a complete democratic system to the Northern Areas. Alliance’s central leader Wazir Shafi said amendments in the Legal Framework Order could not bring about changes in the Northern Areas unless a separate and independent constitution was given to Gilgit-Baltistan. Engineer Amanullah said “Our future is in jeopardy and we are unaware of the global and regional changes. Our actual history has been distorted due to which today we are deprived of our rights.” Conference organiser Ghulam Shehzad Agha said that the Karachi Pact was a conspiracy of the bureaucracy and Kashmiri leaders to usurp the basic rights of the people of the Northern Areas. Syed Haider Shah Rizvi, Mumtaz Ali Nagri, Mohammad Ashraf Sada and Iqbal Dilber also addressed the conference.